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About Lou

Lou Coppola

Biography of Louis F. Coppola

Louis F. Coppola, native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, enjoyed a dazzling musical career with his accordion that most could only dream of. “Lou” broke through barriers to become the first in many arenas for his instrument. 


He won the intensive audition and performed with the United States Air Force Strolling Strings for over 28 years, ultimately becoming the leader of the organization. His Air Force career took him to the palace of Anwar Sadat, to the Far East and all over the globe. He has played at the White House for hundreds of heads of state and performed for nine U.S. Presidents while in the military. Lou was also interviewed by Don Rickles and Steve Lawrence when the Air Force Strings performed on the Merv Griffin Show. 


Lou and his ensemble had one of the longest consecutive engagements in the country, having performed dinner music every weekend at the Officers’ Club in Fort Myer, VA for an amazing 44 years. During the same period, he played at Bolling Officer’s Club for 23 years.

Below are some of his many accomplishments.

  • First Accordionist to be accepted at the New England Conservatory of Music

  • First person to win the AAA’s (American Accordion Association) US Virtuoso Competition four times, taking his first trophy when he was only 15 years old

  • Representative for the AAA in the prestigious world accordion contest Coupe Mondiale, held in Brighton England in 1955

  • First permanently assigned accordionist with the acclaimed USAF Strolling Strings

  • First Non-string player to become leader “NCOIC” of the USAF Strolling Strings

  • First person to be hired by George Mason University as a professor with the sole purpose of establishing a strolling ensemble replicating the USAF Strolling Strings

  • He received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the AAA on the evening of their 80th anniversary celebration 


Lou was also a first rate accordion teacher. Concurrently with his AF duties, he zealously mentored students, many who went on to be national champions.


He founded and managed his own company, Stereo Strings, the civilian counterpart of the AF Strolling Strings, for over thirty-four years. The ensemble's long and distinguished list of engagements is one that any performer would envy. From playing four Rockefeller family weddings, performing with 28 musicians for the grand opening of both the Pittsburg International and Reagan National Airports, Stereo Strings was an important part of Washington’s social scene. 


The group was extremely proud of their involvement with the city of Atlanta in their quest to win the Olympic games in 1996. Traveling to Seoul, Tokyo and Barcelona, Stereo Strings worked for nine years as America’s sole musical representative in this successful effort.

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